FOR years, I’ve fantasized on getting enough evidence to prove the differing aptitude and interest between male and female managers in giving the best possible service to their employees. It’s an inevitable talk in people management. If you treat your employees well, they will respond in a positive way to treating your customers more than what you can imagine.
It’s within the context of Dave Ulrich’s prescription that Human Resource professionals must fit into the mold of a change agent, business partner, employee champion, and administrative expert—all rolled into one.
This came to me again on Sept. 29, 2015 at the Discovery Primea Makati, when 12 female managers and one male corporate executive from different industries attended my one-day workshop on “Lean HR: Continuous Improvement to Excellence.”
Thirteen participants attending a workshop like that was my lucky, ideal number as my program contained a lot of group work: self-assessment, dyad activity, individual presentation, and critiquing. More than 13 participants could make the seminar unwieldy and the crowd difficult to handle.
The objective of the seminar was to apply the principles of Lean to the HR function. It’s the formal marriage between Total Quality Management and HR.
It’s imperative for organizations to be actively conscious about how to eliminate, if not reduce, unnecessary things or invisible wastes in their policies and procedures that make the work life of managers difficult, resulting also in the utter disappointment of employees.
For instance, why do some HR departments take at least one week to issue a one-page employment certificate? Why do HR managers require job applicants to submit as many documents in the first step of the screening process, when they’re not sure yet about short-listing the candidate? And why do they have to take 45 days on average to process job applications even for clerical positions?
How about the application of workers for a one-day vacation leave that requires multiple signatures?
Such inefficiencies simply irritate employees and other managers, too. Many of them don’t complain, for whatever reason, other than showing their disgust in the kind of work when they treat customers. In the greater analysis of things, there’s truth to what management Guru Peter Drucker (1909-2005) has said: “Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.”
Drucker was not alone in condemning management. Even the American genius W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993) who mentored the Japanese on the dynamics of quality and productivity succinctly described it in statistical terms: “80 percent of all problems are caused by Management, and only 20 percent can be traced to the workers.”
Going back to my original premise—Who is better at people management, male or female managers? Maybe, the 12 female managers who attended my seminar can give us a clue. The next question comes to mind: Does maternal instinct have anything to do with it? The answer may not be conclusive with such a sample size.
In the first place, why emphasize on the contrast between genders when it comes to management style? It is important if you are hiring or promoting someone to a managerial position. Over several decades, the female has been considered the weak gender because it used to be that they were generally submissive and dependent on their male counterparts who were known for their approach of command-and-control.
The problem there is that we are missing the important aspect of caring, empowering, and nurturing employees, which I believe is the natural and strong qualifications of women managers. Since we don’t have a local study on this, the best that you can do is check the satisfaction level of employees under the care of male and female managers.
In particular, who has the highest turnover rate? Apart from sexual harassment, who is the subject of most complaints raised by employees? This can be done scientifically via periodic employee opinion surveys run by an external consultant who can give you that much-needed objectivity.
Let’s simplify things. For a moment, let’s exclude those managers who belong to the LGBT community, assuming that they’re willing to move out of the closet. But surely, that could be another interesting topic.
Rey Elbo is a business consultant on human resources and total quality management as a fused interest. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for his random management thoughts.